I preached this homily at the funeral of a retired priest today.
Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’
[He] asked for there to be a homily at his service. The opportunities to remember him, tell stories, and continue to give thanks for his life are ahead of us after the service, and tomorrow and the next day and in the days, months and years ahead. We are here in a service to pray together, sing together, and break bread together. The Eucharist – Holy Communion, the bread and the wine. The Bread of life: Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
I have had the opportunity to share communion with Murray many times, at his home – one on one, and the monthly services at the care facility where he was living in the hospital, and here at the Cathedral. Every time after he received communion, I would here him say the words “Maranatha. Thank you Jesus.”
That bread of life sustained him, and meant so much to him, and so he never missed an opportunity to share in the breaking of the bread. The Eucharist does not happen with only one person, but “When two or three are gathered together in my name.” And so when two or three are gathered together; “Maranatha, Thank you Jesus.” Maranatha can mean “Come Lord,” or “our Lord has come.” A part of one of the sentences from the braking of the bread says – “Here is Jesus come to us in bread and in wine.”
Eucharist is a gift. It is the gift of Jesus’ own life to us to sustain us and nourish us and empower us to be the Body of Christ – food for the journey. It is in sharing in this holy food that we are made part of each other, part of the body of Christ. Forget the fancy words and prayers – it is the act of sharing of bread and wine and the profound transformative effect that has on us. It is life, it is death, it is resurrection. In the Eucharist, simple and plain as it is we see Jesus and believe in him. We see and believe in God and in the Holy Spirit and in the Eucharist we find eternal life, and are raised up both in the moment of the sharing of the Eucharist and when we come to our last day.
Maranatha. Thank you Jesus. Amen.